Absence of a role for interleukin-13 in inflammatory bowel disease

Eur J Immunol. 2014 Feb;44(2):370-85. doi: 10.1002/eji.201343524.


IL-13 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of ulcerative colitis (UC), and may have a role in animal models of gut fibrosis. We studied the involvement of IL-13 in inflammation and fibrosis in UC and Crohn's disease (CD). Intestinal biopsies and anti-CD3/CD28- or anti-CD2/CD28-stimulated lamina propria mononuclear cells from UC and CD patients and control subjects were cultured, and IL-13, IL-4, IL-5, IL-17A and IFN-γ production was measured. Mucosal IL-13-producing cells were characterised by flow cytometry. Gut explants from strictured CD, non-strictured CD and healthy donors were cultured ex vivo, and secreted IL-13, IL-1β and collagen were measured. IL-13 production by mucosal explants and activated lamina propria mononuclear cells did not differ between CD, UC and control subjects, and was at least a log lower than IFN-γ and IL-17A. IL-13-producing cells, and in particular natural killer T cells, were uniformly low in all groups. IL-4 and IL-5 were undetectable in culture supernatants. Explants of CD strictures produced low amounts of IL-13, whereas IL-1β and collagen were elevated. We could not confirm that UC or strictured CD are associated with elevated IL-13 production. These data suggest that an anti-IL-13 Ab would not be an appropriate therapeutic strategy in inflammatory bowel disease.

Keywords: Crohn's disease; Fibrosis; T helper cell type 2; Ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • CD28 Antigens / immunology
  • CD3 Complex / immunology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Crohn Disease / immunology*
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Fibrosis / immunology*
  • Fibrosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-13 / immunology*
  • Interleukin-13 Receptor alpha1 Subunit / immunology
  • Interleukin-13 Receptor alpha2 Subunit / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestines / immunology
  • Intestines / pathology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / pathology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Natural Killer T-Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / immunology
  • Young Adult


  • CD28 Antigens
  • CD3 Complex
  • IL13 protein, human
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-13 Receptor alpha1 Subunit
  • Interleukin-13 Receptor alpha2 Subunit
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Interferon-gamma